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Ex-Referee Under House Arrest

Former NBA referee Joe Crawford was sentenced to six months of house arrest and three years' probation Friday for federal income tax fraud.

Crawford was one of eight NBA referees accused of downgrading first-class airline tickets purchased by the league and pocketing the difference without reporting it on his income tax.

The 47-year-old Crawford apologized at his sentencing in U.S. District Court and said he was sorry for putting his family and friends through the ordeal.

Crawford, an NBA official for 21 years, pleaded guilty July 1 to one count of tax fraud. He resigned the same day.

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Under the referee's collective bargaining agreement with the NBA, the league was required to buy referees first-class tickets on plane trips longer than two hours.

Crawford has already repaid $108,491 in taxes, including $24,660 he owed on income from the reduced air fare.

More than 150 people -- including several NBA stars -- wrote to Judge Herbert Hutton pleading for leniency.

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